If in the movie industry, one would have to be living under a rock not to watch Rich Ross take front stage and center with expected 3-D blockbuster Alice in Wonderland in his new role as Chairman of Walt Disney Pictures. If Ross didn’t understand the temperament of exhibition before, he certainly has a taste of it now. His request to shorten the DVD release window was met with skepticism at best in the US, and invoked a fight in the UK. Tim Burton wasn’t amused that his movie was the chosen one, and threatened to boycott the world premiere at the Leicester Square Odeon if Odeon’s threat to not play the movie during its normal engagement wasn’t resolved. However, the studio plea that DVD sales need to improve to recoup the costs of major productions, particularly 3-D productions, did not go on deaf ears. No doubt exhibitors will be monitoring Alice‘s DVD sales closely. But while the movie is now set to play everywhere, any studio attempting to shorten another release window will be treading lightly.
The non-controversial news in 3-D, though, is the continued sales of digital cinema systems. While most companies expected sales to drop after the installation boom that preceded the release of Avatar, they were pleasantly surprised to find that demand for new systems had instead increased. If exhibitors didn’t believe in 3-D magic before, they certainly believe it now, and aren’t going to miss out on this year’s abundance of thirty-three 3-D releases, including Alice. Manufacturers are working hard to meet demand. Doremi reports sales twice that of any prior month, to all parts of the world. Perhaps 3-D will convert the world’s cinemas to digital, after all.